Reducing education equalities by improving rural students’ access to high school
In Cambodia, physical access to high school is a huge barrier to education for many rural students. In rural areas, many students have to travel 40km or more to reach the nearest high school. As a result, many impoverished families choose to prioritise sending their children to work to contribute to household income rather than completing their high school education. With young people not completing basic education, it becomes very difficult for them to find skilled jobs to escape the cycle of poverty.
Dana Asia is committed to reducing educational inequalities for marginalised students. In some cases, this inequality comes from a simple lack of school buildings. One such example is Khnao Po school, a rural middle and high school in Siem Reap province. When Dana Asia first became involved with the school in 2017, they were offering education to grades 7 to 10. In academic year 2018/19 the school extended to Grade 11 with a total of 536 students enrolled. At this time, the school had only one block of 6 classrooms with classes over-subscribed and very little space. There was an urgent need for more classroom space not only to provide more space for existing classes but also to enable the school to extend education to grade 12. With donor funding, Dana Asia was able to construct a new 6-classroom block in September 2019 to accommodate growing student numbers. In the 2019/2020 academic year, the school was able to offer its first grade 12 class with an impressive first enrolment of 67.
With enrolment increasing year-on-year, the school soon needed additional space for the growing grade 11 and 12 classes. With further generosity from the donor, in May 2020 an additional 3-classroom block was constructed, with specialist science labs for the grade 11 and 12 students. As a condition of these school buildings, Dana Asia supported the school to appeal to the Ministry of Education to provide more teachers and equipment to be able to provide a high-quality education.
By academic year 2021/2022, enrolment in the school was up to 826. Thanks to these new school buildings, Khnao Po is now able to offer quality education to more students in the nearby villages, meaning more young people are able to complete their high school education.